Making sure our elderly are cared for, and healthy


Accessing health service in the lockdown was challenging for 82-year-old Purna Bir Gaida who visits Janaswasthay Sewa Kendra, Bhaktapur for his health check-up once every month. He has been taking medicines for diabetes, high blood pressure and gastritis.

“I went to the Centre on April 10 but didn’t find the doctor who treats me. I went to another pharmacy and showed the empty package of my earlier medicines to buy the same,” shared Gaida.

Unlike Gaida, 46-yearold Laxmi Suwal was able to get her medicine for blood pressure from the same centre on the twenty-first day of the lockdown.

“I reached the centre at around 8:00 am. I got the medicines without checking my pressure. But yes, I was checked for my temperature at the entrance.”

When asked about the health service for senior citizens during the lockdown, Dr Ratna Sundar Lasiwa, Health Coordinator of Bhaktapur Municipality as well as In-charge of the Centre responded, “We have been suggesting that senior citizens with   aches in leg/s, back et cetera to stay home. The pain could be relieved with simple treatment/medicine.

But for patients with diseases like thyroid, diabetes, hypertension, mental illness, heart disease, depression, among others, we are providing medicines for two to three months.”

He said the Centre has been providing only pharmaceutical service to such patients from 7:00-11:00 am, and 95 per cent of the patients are receiving the service for free under an insurance service provided by the Centre. He said nurses are also being mobilised to patients’ homes during emergencies upon receiving a call.

Dr Ramesh Kandel, Senior Citizen Specialist and Geriatrician at HAMS Hospital, who is in regular contact with his senior patients via Facebook Messenger, Viber, and other social platforms, has been observing anxieties in them.

He revealed, “Many have expressed their worries over the phone saying whether their health can cope with the pandemic.

Also, they complain that they are not getting medicines because of pharmacies not being open, and they are not able to get follow-ups done because of the lockdown.”

In such a situation, Dr Kandel says, “I recommend them to follow WHO guidelines and maintain personal hygiene. Proper hand-washing for 20 seconds is more effective than using sanitiser.

They can stock required medicines for two to three months if they can.” He also advises them to check their sugar level using a glucometer, blood pressure with a BP machine, and regulate oxygen for asthma patients at home, if they have.

He also suggests all to take medicines regularly and be in contact with their doctor via any medium.

While medical accessibility for many senior citizens is affected by the lockdown, Kalpana Boyaju, Manager as well as Community Medical Assistant at Sahara Care Center claimed medical care for 32 citizens are not much affected at her centre. “We'- ve been taking care of their health by having doctors visit.

We’ve just continued the same now too,” said Boyaju adding, “But, we are worried about their temperatures.

We measure their temperature and pressure twice a day now. We give them medicines immediately even in case of a common cold.”

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 26, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.